Jonathan Goldberg says the adjustments he received from chiropractor Lawrence Stern relieved agonizing back pain he suffered after lifting an air conditioner. And he says he avoided back surgery one doctor told him he might need.

"I haven't had even the smallest recurrence of anything other than stiffness for over eight years now," said Goldberg.

Consumer Reports' survey of its readers found hands-on treatments such as chiropractic and deep-tissue massage helped relieve back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis. And in the case of back pain, chiropractic care outperformed prescription medicine.

"Sixty-five percent of those surveyed using chiropractic treatments for back pain said they helped a lot. Only 53 percent using prescription medications found them as helpful," says Consumer Reports.

Half of those who used deep-tissue massage or yoga found they helped a lot for osteoarthritis. The survey results indicated that both were almost on par with prescription medication. But in the Consumer Reports National Research Center survey, alternative treatments were not found to be as helpful with many other medical conditions.

Take depression. Yoga or meditation helped about 35 percent. In contrast, 70 percent of those using prescription medication found it to be very helpful. And as for colds, flu, and allergies? Prescription meds were deemed much more helpful than nutritional supplements like vitamin C. So alternative treatment in some cases may help, but Consumer Reports advises checking with your doctor first.